News! And March 2015 Reading Review

It’s that time again! Time for some reading reflection. And, boy, do I need it. I read and blogged a lot this month!

But first, let’s hit some news!

Er, which should be interesting considering I write these posts in advance…

News. If my auguring skills are up to snuff:

ancillarySwordThe Hugo Awards shortlist ballot was announced this weekend. It was disappointing, none of my choices made the ballot, and it’s more of the same shit we saw last year.

Correction: There is no Hugo Award this year. It has been replaced by the SPewgos.

In better news, (probably), the BSFA Awards Ceremony happened this weekend! And either Nina Allan, David Hutchison, or Simon Ings won! Probably David Hutchinson. Or Nina Allan, if the BSFA is feeling avant-garde this year. Either way, I’m happy! Yay for the BSFA… even though I didn’t completely agree with that overlong shortlist that easily could have been culled of three books because THAT was a waste of a Spring Break.

Correction: Those three mediocre books topped the vote. Way to go BSFA. I’m mad at you now.

Also, the Clarke Award shortlist was announced. Wasn’t it? If not, it’s really overdue.


More Correction: It was just released! Super stoked for Hutchinson and North after the disappointing BSFA results! Mandel’s is a fresh take on a old story, but that’s about it. Not really interested in the other novels, but it’s a good looking list.

Books Blogged:

Davy3I started the month blogging about Edgar Pangborn’s raunchy post-apocalyptic tale Davy (1964). Pangborn’s voicing is full of that dry, witty stuff I like, but, although the world feels like it could be the twin of Brackett’s (1955) The Long Tomorrow, Brackett did it better.

(“Brackett did it better” has a nice ring to it. I just like saying it.)

Then I posted my 100th review! Which happened to be my new all-time favorite book by one of my favorite authors: The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) by Kim Stanley Robinson. So that was perfect timing and completely unplanned and I am lying, I totally planned it that way.

To the utter dismay of TBofNS fans, I completed my daunting journey through The Book of the New Sun with Gene Wolfe by posting a half-hearted review of The Citadel of the Autarch (1983). But don’t all first-time readers get a free pass if they don’t grasp most of it? Isn’t that the point? I’m already prepping for my second read, by the way! So far, John Clute’s essays in Strokes are the first essays I’ve encountered that convince me that I might actually care about the transsubstantial tale. Severian’s mother!

TheLatheofHeaven3Then, I went all Taoist in my review of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven (1971), which was really just a cop-out because I never feel up to reviewing Le Guin, and I just wanted an excuse to read her version of the Tao Te Ching, which includes some very Le Guin-like commentary.

For the final two weeks of March, I went on a BSFA book review spree and posted infobyte reviews nearly daily for all eight nominees in the best novel category. I read and enjoyed five of the novels long before the BSFA shortlist was announced, and could easily have lived without reading the final three. Sorry Ancillary Sword, Cuckoo Song, and The Moon King, you did not impress me.

Also, I only typoed BSFA once. Bsssfffa. Bssssfffffa. Bssssffffa. (Every fucking year.)

Books Read, Books To Be Blogged

welcome chaosI read Kate Wilhelm’s post-Sweet Birds thriller Welcome, Chaos (1983) for Joachim’s Kate Wilhelm review series at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations. I’ll share a link when it gets posted. (Chris’, a.k.a. Admiral Ironbombs, much better review of Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang has already posted. Check it out! Then read the book!)

Other book reviews to look forward to:
Bones of the Earth (2002) by Michael Swanwick
Brittle Innings (1994) by Michael Bishop
A History of the Restoration of English Magic by John Segundis (otherwise known as Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004) by Susanna Clarke, but really, my title is better)
Stand on Zanzibar (1968) by John Brunner
The Whole Man (1964) by John Brunner

Which means we definitely have John Brunner Week coming up! Sheeting yeah!

Books To Be Read in April:

This month looks to be a dull, man-heavy month. (“That’s every month for you, Megan!” – is what everyone is saying.)

Themoteingodseye2The Mote in God’s Eye (1974) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (Pushed back due to the Wilhelm addition)
Fire Time (1974) by Poul Anderson – Anderson always bores me.
Iron Council (2004) by China Mieville – Finishing the Bas-Lag not-a-series. Word counter charging.
The Wanderer (1964) by Fritz Leiber – More Big Time and less Lankhmar, please.
Emergence (1984) by David Palmer – I think is one of Tammy’s favorite books.

Total March Book Tallies
Total books blogged: 12
Total books read: 7
Books about outer space: 1
Books about dystopias: 5 (plus 2 about real-world war, so let’s just go ahead and make that 7)
Books about AI: 2
Books about telepathy: 1
Books about menstruation: 1
Books about baseball: 1

Best book of the month: A tie between Jonathan Strange (an old favorite) and Stand on Zanzibar, but Brittle Innings deserves special mention. I can’t wait to talk about these books!

27 thoughts on “News! And March 2015 Reading Review

  1. I can’t wait to find out if Pournelle and Niven’s other collaborations are as shitty as Lucifer’s Hammer!

    I never feel up to reviewing Le Guin either.


  2. Joachim Boaz says:

    Thanks for contributing to my series! I will have your review up early next week probably. (someone sent me a review in three days after the call so I need to post it). And, I plan on having a review of either Bishop’s Catacomb Years or Walk to the End of the World up as well in the near future.


    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      You’re welcome! Wilhelm deserves new readers. You always select authors who deserve much needed attention.

      And looking forward to that Bishop review. I very much enjoyed my second Bishop read.


  3. Tammy says:

    I’m impressed that you found a copy of Emergence! Man that book is tough to find:-D


  4. This month looks to be a dull, man-heavy month.

    That’s an innuendo waiting to happen!

    Looking forward to all your reviews, as I have not read most of those. The awards season is a mess, but so it goes. Excitement! You’ve got me buying (gasp) new SF books again… Have not touched many of those since 2009, excepting some Mieville and Lauren Beukes.


    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      My new SF experience is a return for me, as well. How nice to read new releases that aren’t dull, repetitive dreck! I know you said you’ll never get to them, but at least you can feel safe knowing that you’re supporting some well-deserving authors!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jesse says:

    After so many years of quality picks, the BSFA novel award was disappointing – for the second year in a row. Being a popular vote, there is potential it will follow in the Hugo’s shitty heels. Leckie the only mediocre title on the list, yet the title that was chosen, it leaves me scared for next year. I’m not familiar with all the titles on the Clarke Award list, but I don’t see any Leckie, Kevin J. Anderson (Kevin J. Anderson – fuck!!!), or Jim Butcher anywhere, which is at least one step in a positive direction…


    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      I was so stunned by the BSFA and the following numbers. I can’t believe Ancillary Sword won, followed by the shoddy, amateur Moon King, and an empty children’s book. WTF! 152 ballots cast, with Allan and Ings barely breaking into the double-digits. At least Hutchinson and North are getting recognized by the Clarke list. I hope Hutchinson wins this one.

      Jim Butcher: I made it to page three of the first Dresden Files before I nearly threw it out the window… but I was on a plane. I hear he gets better, but I’m not willing to find out.

      I’ve not heard of Kevin J. Anderson, but I tried my damnedest to avoid any encounter with puppy-related vitriol from both sides last year, just to give the short fic ballots the most objective treatment possible. I read Torgerson’s two pieces and they were the dullest, most mediocre and formulaic crap I read all summer. I had no idea he was a puppy, but his stories were terribly boring and amateur. (VD’s was pretty lame, too, but I couldn’t avoid prior knowledge about him). So, politics aside, I cannot trust those guys to recommend good fiction. They don’t know the first thing about it.


    • Mike White says:

      I was impressed by the Girl With All the Gifts — I thought all variations on the zombie apocalypse novel had been done, but this one proved me wrong. Anyone who liked I Am Legend should check this one out – but if not, it’s unlikely to appeal to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • fromcouchtomoon says:

        I’m so over zombie fic, but I have read nothing but good things about Girl With All the Gifts. It’s a fresh perspective, so I don’t begrudge it being on the Clarke Award list. I’ll be annoyed if Carey or Mandel or Faber win, though. Hutchinson and North deserve that honor.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Rabindranauth says:

    Will be waiting on your take of Brittle Innings! I’m also starting Iron Council later this month, just have a few books to finish reading first. For some reason when I clicked the Clarke nominees link, I got a Forbidden page, is that just me?


    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      The Clarke Award link works for me. Perhaps it is forbidden in Guyana?

      It’s so weird we’re parallel-reading Mieville. I would suggest a “cross-hatched” reading, but that would be pretty difficult.

      I think I’ll take a break after Iron Council though. I’m already sick of hearing about his upcoming new release. I tend to prefer Mieville (and Gaiman) during the dry spells. god forbid I sound like a fan among fans, you know.


      • Rabindranauth says:

        3rd World Internet! Gotta love it.

        Yea, especially as I have no solid clue when I’ll start it! I’m spreading out his other stuff I want to read over the next few months, don’t want to burn out on him! Given that you’re a well known genre blogger of classic SF, it’s safe to say that fangirl is the last label people will peg you with 😀


  7. S. C. Flynn says:

    You are putting effort in, that’s for sure! Very good.


  8. Widdershins says:

    ROFL – the Spewgos!!! 🙂


  9. sjhigbee says:

    Thank you for once more, a very frank and entertaining take on your reads – but do please warn me, next time… I nearly choked on my Lapsang Souchong: dystopias – mm… AI – yeah… telepath – interesting… men- *splutter, cough*


    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Ah, I keep forgetting to warn people! Widdershins (above) has suggested that I adopt a vomit bucket warning system. Must remember next time…

      Yeah, that one would be The Moon King. Which is really not all about menstruation, but he doesn’t shy away from it. Nor should he, but give me something to make fun of and I will. Because I’m twelve.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Joseph Nebus says:

    Poul Anderson’s an author that it always seemed like I ought to like, particularly based on the work and imagination he would put into the settings, but whom I just don’t connect with. I don’t think there’s anything much he’s written that’s stuck with me except the short story “The Star Beast”, and that one my mind insists on saying was John Varley anyway.


  11. fromcouchtomoon says:

    I don’t connect with Anderson, either. I find his novels are too short to contain his BIG ideas. They never feel fully developed.

    That said, I’m halfway through Fire Time and, although it’s also short, it feels more developed than his typical fare. I’m happy so far.

    My mind insists John Varley is Bob Heinlein. A much more tolerable Bob Heinlein.


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